On March 17, Irish culture
is celebrated on St. Patrick’s Day. River
s (such as the Chicago River in Chicago, Illinois) are dyed green. Skyscraper
s (such as the Empire State Building in New York City, New York) are lit with green lights. Tradition
al Irish food, such as potatoes or boiled cabbage, is dyed green.
But . . . the saint's name wasn't Patrick! And . . . he wasn’t Irish! And . . . he's associated with the color blue, not green! And . . . that “traditional” Irish food? Not traditionally Irish!
Maewyn Succat was a citizen of the Roman Empire
, living on the island of Great Britain
in the 400s. Maewyn was kidnap
ped, and forced to work as a slave
on the nearby island of Ireland. He escaped, but returned to Ireland as a Christian
leader. Maewyn changed his name to Patrick when he became a priest.
St. Patrick was originally associated with the color blue. In fact, the Irish presidential seal
remains a harp on a “St. Patrick’s blue” background. People originally wore a single green shamrock
, a symbol
of Ireland and Christianity, to honor St. Patrick. In 1798, Irish people opposed British rule. On March 17, 1798, Irish soldiers were among the first to wear solid-green uniform
Potatoes are the food most often associated with Ireland. However, potatoes are native to the Americas and were not introduce
d to Ireland until the 1500s. Corned beef and cabbage are actually Irish-American
foods. Irish communities in places like New York City adapt
ed recipes from the traditions of their fellow-immigrant
s and Eastern European families. Although these foods didn't start out as Irish, they became
Irish . . . just like St. Patrick.